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TRAGEDY--AGAIN

Yesterday a gunman burst into a gradeschool, killing more than 20 people- mostly children-- then killing himself. 

The nation was understandably shocked at this happening. The word "tragedy" somehow doesn't even seem to fit.  How could someone commit this atrocity?  Yet this is not the first time such a thing has happened.  Surely no one has forgotten Columbine... or the movie theater of just this year. 

Like everyone I am saddened at such outrages, but also find myself somehow oddly numb and jaded.  It's not that I'm an uncaring person; just the opposite actually.   But I am by nature a very logical, analytical and pragmatic person who despite founding a decent-size fantasy-based group, tends to look reality straight in the face.  And when I examine that reality, the main question that comes to mind at a time like this is, "What did we expect?"

CONSIDER

How could that young man do such a thing?  I can think of several reasons:

1. Extremely gory and violent movies and DVDs

2. Unregulated Internet full of all things vile and repulsive

3. Ultra-violent, anti-ethical, immoral computer games in which taking human life in the most monstrous ways possible becomes a source of "scores" and achievement

The nay-sayers no longer have much evidence in their corner.  This is no longer the 1950s, with television just emerging.   We've had six decades to analyze human response to visual input and the reports are in: what we feed our minds is what we become.   YES, the mind is a complex computer and yes, "Garbage-in / Garbage-out".   YES, television does influence minds, especially young ones.  Pornography and violence does affect the way people think... and in some cases, their actions.  If a person is borderline already, violent games and pornography can push that person over the edge.  Then we wind up with twenty children dead and countless other children psychologically scarred for the rest of their lives.  We end up with grieving parents asking "Why?  Why would a person do such a thing?"... when the answer should by now be clearly obvious.

It's because our society encourages it, on a daily basis, everywhere we look.  If it bleeds, it leads.

ONLY 20?

We need to step back a bit and examine the reality of this situation.  There weren't just 20 children killed at that massacre.  Large numbers of children are killed every single day in wars throughout our globe.    They have grieving parents too.  More than that starve to death each day, or die of curable diseases such as dehydration or malaria.  Thousands more die of the apparently-man-made disease of HIV/AIDS.  Children are regularly maimed or killed when they step on old, forgotten land mines.  Hundreds (thousands?) die each year due to domestic violence or child abuse.  Others are sold into slavery and put through a life-long living nightmare.

It is natural to grieve for those who were murdered in that school yesterday.  That's in our own back yard, so it hits home.  But put in perspective... that incident is just a media-induced tip of the iceberg.  It's the part that shows, the news story that sells. What about the massive swell of such atrocity invisible "under the water"... the ones that don't make the headlines?

IT'S NO DIFFERENT

Those twenty children in that school, the people in that theater, the Columbine massacre... those people are no different than the thousands killed in Iraq or the millions that died in the Vietnam, Korea and World Wars. 

"Oh but that was wartime.  Casualties are expected!"   Well, this is war too-- war against creating sociopathic, deviant, twisted minds.  Those minds are created by feeding them violent images through entertainment that is unregulated-despite-the-little-package-stamps, movies that show the worst kind of gore, violence and sadism, parents that have no right being parents in the first place, showing their children porn and DVDs regardless of the rating on the box.  Such people are created because Hollywood has no conscience whatsoever in what it puts on the large screen or sells on DVDs through our local "family" Wal-Mart store or grocery markets.

This latest shooting is nothing more than a symptom of a much bigger disease:  we have lost control of  our society, and it's getting worse.  Civilization is anything but civil.

When did it become legal, moral, ethical and even a "right" to depict anything we want on videos and games, regardless of how horrendous and offensive it may be?  When did "freedom of expression" become more important than common decency?  When did "freedom of speech" go beyond the ability to proclaim human rights and liberties-- and fall into the pit of "saying anything we feel like saying, no matter how vile, offensive, abusive or dangerous"?

When did we lose the ability to point to something as patently obscene?

Human liberty is meant to protect the rights of people to reasonable freedom and safety.   But all things must be exercised in moderation-- and that includes our insistence on freedom of expression.  In this country it is illegal to photograph or engage in child pornography-- but it's not illegal to draw or paint depictions of such.  How is that even sensible?  It is illegal to go out and chop someone up with a machete, but it's totally acceptable to do so repeatedly in a blood-and-guts-computer game or movie.  

These actions are protected under our "rights" of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. But doesn't anyone stop to question the predictable consequences of such "freedoms" being taken too far-- the ultimate results on the fragile human mind when immersed in such sadistic environments on a daily basis?  Do we really expect to surround ourselves with ultra-violent movies and computer games-- easily accessible in stores throughout our nation-- and not pay the price of twenty children being slaughtered while they're at school? 

WEARING BLINDERS

To this day I still meet people who don't believe we're in the throes of "Global Warming" (more accurately termed global climate change).  They are still uneducated as to what it means, the symptoms, the consequences, and the huge amount of proof that we are already past the point of no return.  In effect, they ignore reality and all evidence that contradicts their personal, biased beliefs.

Similarly, people will deny that entertainment, movies and violent computer games have any effect on "normal" people.  "After all, I'm all right," they claim.  The question is... how would they know?  How would you or I possibly know what effect such things have had on our minds over the years?  How could we compare the people we would have been without such things... the way society would have been without such influence?   If our society for the past 60 years had forbidden gory movies, ultra-violent computer games and graphic pornography-- do you think we might live in a better, more civil world overall?  How would anyone know?  The damage is already done.

It's easy to argue that we had two world wars before television, DVDs and computers were ever invented... and that is a valid argument.  That doesn't mean that such things didn't exacerbate an already-existent tendency of mankind toward violence.   The Romans had the Gladiatorial arenas.  The early 1900s had boxing-- one man beating another (sometimes to death) in the name of "entertainment".  There has been no shortage through the centuries of feeding our lust for violence.  But now it's more widespread, more easily accessible.  All we need do is pop in a DVD or click a link on the Internet.

So when we get down to it, the answer to "How could a man do this kind of thing?" is easily understood.  He had every stimulus, encouragement and tool to do so.  The real question we should be asking is, "When can we expect the next one?"   For there will be a next one, as surely as you are reading this text.   Unless society changes, one thing we can certainly predict about the future:  these atrocities will will not only continue, they will increase-- not only in number but in scale and horror.

Our hearts go out to the people who lost their family members in that unconscionable murder spree. We grieve for you... as far as we are capable of grief in the regular onslaught of disasters that have hit our senses lately. 

But really, when it comes down to the why of it all... the reasons are as easily accessible as your computer, your television, your store shelves.  Frankly, we should have seen this coming long ago.  The wisdom is ancient:  For what you sow, this you shall also reap.

--o--

Views: 108

Comment by Zekeen Phoenix on December 16, 2012 at 12:37pm

Very informative, and well put (I "skimmed" it, but you carried it so well I could read all of it at the same time). I have heard that they are showing he had Asperger's Syndrome, and if the media goes crazy, they could demonize a very common and non sociopathic disorder that is in no way truly related to violence (anyone ever seen a fight break out between federation fans and klingons at a trekky convention? I'd pay to see that truthfully). Hopefully people realize that psychosis in this form is being bred by today's care not attitude.

Personally, I believe that the world is in need of role models far greater than just some guy who donated to the poor. We sit around and let countries murder their people and just sit and watch without any truly neutral assistance to just end the conflicts. If only this world had a super hero or someone who could rise to such a level, people might aspire to do more and act differently than allow members of society to degrade into low class monsters.

And that's my take on this problem.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on December 16, 2012 at 6:25pm

Zauber sent this sensible and thought-provoking quote by Morgan Freeman:

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-sqErjgu5IeY/UM0qvLYOlaI/AAAAAAAA...

Comment by Minethere Always on December 25, 2012 at 1:38pm

I think the problem is much worse than you say. I saw this coming with the repeated onslaught of removing parental rights. Yes, there are parents who certainly should not be parents, but the government has taken this concept to far [typical for government of course] and as it is nowadays a parent cannot really discipline at all anymore without fear of having government being involved.

I think it's ridiculous and goes into my thinking there are no real heroes anymore. It used to be our parents, and for some i am sure it still is, but everything having to do with parenting is now regulated in one way or another.

Our heroes used to be the good guys, now they are mostly some politician who one thinks is just simply the better of two evils. And really, politicians shouldn't be that which we epitomize anyways.

No strong parenting and no heroes anymore....that is the root of the problem, the consequences of which we see in so many ways...

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on December 25, 2012 at 2:28pm

I am reminded of Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" and the very subtle understory it carries:  do we die from the razor sharp pendulum-- or from falling in the pit? 

Yes, at times parents are excessive disciplinarians and are even sadists.  Does that give the government the right to step in and proclaim that any parent that spanks a child is abusive?   Does that give Dr. Phil the authorization to attack parental choice and call parents morons because they disagree with his personal opinions regarding discipline? 

"The government is best which governs least."  That is a truism we have tried very hard to exercise in Elf Clan.  We have our rules... but they are specific and they are minimal.  Beyond those, it is our choice and desire to give our members as much leeway as possible in how they exercise their considerable freedoms within our group.   If a member decides to ban someone from their sim we do not tell them they can't do so.  We will arbitrate if requested, we will make suggestions, but we don't try to enforce our whims and personal decisions on our members.  So long as they're within the Charter principles... it's their sim.

I feel the same way about families and indeed, our society.  Just how much right does the government have to invade our homes, personal freedoms and right as parents to decide what is best for our families?  How far should governmental authority stretch?  At what point does society turn from being open and free with minimal, reasonable laws and guidelines... and instead become a dictatorial and oppressive monster that invades every area of our lives.

I am not making a political statement here. I am agreeing with Mine-- that the problems we are experiencing are two-fold:

1) Failure of parents to exercise authority over their children in a proper manner (ie, teaching children morality, ethics and manners)

2) Failure of government to exercise its authority in a manner that protects society from monsters such as these murderers-- and the parents who help create them (either through abuse or inaction).

There is no easy-solution.  When we teach our children that people like Batman are the "heroes" (let's dress up in terrifying outfits and beat the blazes out of anyone we disagree with)... when the media glorfies the monsters that kill children and fails to recognize the victims... when journalists encourage copycat killings and indeed as Mr. Freeman said-- prompt dangerous individuals to try to outdo one another-- when freedom of speech becomes freedom to abuse speech and bear no consequence or accountability for such actions... then society is already beyond the point of no return.  Just as with Global Climate Change-- it's already too late to turn around and save it.  The damage is already done and is already too extensive.  As one psychologist said, we are entering a generation of sociopaths.  Or as I mentioned during a discussion with a friend the other day, we had our warmongers, who became the parents of hippies, who became the parents of yuppies, who became the parents of "mebies" (my own phrase.... me me me), who became the parents of who-knows-what... a generation raised on sadistic videos, distorted sexuality, comic books (with their presentation of false "heroes"), twisted computer games and the Internet.

I fear the consequences of such are what we just saw... people who not only have no conscience... but are monstrous beyond all belief.   And as Freeman said-- this is just the beginning.

Comment by Minethere Always on December 25, 2012 at 2:54pm

You shouldn't agree with me..it isn't healthy, and it casts aspersions on you:P

"The government is best which governs least." I so agree with this. The problem is that always there are those who feel that yes, government should do this or do that, somehow losing all reality in the process by thinking government somehow has the answers, when there is plenty of proof that they don't.

The problem is exacerbated in our current American elections system, for presidents, which is for all intents and purposes a 2 party system. You get those who feel the other party is the anti-christ incarnate while being completely blind to the evils of their own party. I find it amazing...but then, I see it in blind loyalties to particular grids as well...hehe [EG}

And as happens when good intentions are made into laws, bureaucrats will screw up any value it had.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on December 25, 2012 at 5:04pm

Well as should be apparent, I am not against "government".  Elf Clan has its own form of government and it has proved to serve our group well.  But I believe that is because our guidelines and rules are fair, apply equally to everyone, and are not oppressive or excessive.  They are limited to the essentials and are designed to be able to bend to the needs of our members.

Contrast this to the "government" of Second Life which was oppressive in many areas yet not aggressive enough in others.  They allowed griefers and drama queens to run rampant, declaring the "rights" of criminally-minded members to "privacy" while those members abused such rules to attack other members (ie, hiding behind their anonymity).  It was a matter of unbalanced governance, an inadequate and inconsistent policing force, and a failure to include ethics in their concepts.

We find much the same today in real life.  For example, our government has failed (specifically the court system) to establish a sufficient drawing line of what is termed "obscenity".   Anyone of common sense and adult conscience should be able to determine when something crosses the line of obscenity.  But our society has allowed its conscience to become so jaded that we allow widespread Internet porn... totally failing to protect our children from the most vile of graphic images (and I speak not just of nudity... but of sadistic sexual torture, bestiality, etc etc.  There is no limit to the depravity of Internet.)

Hollywood, in the name of "freedom of expression" and "freedom of speech" is allowed to produce the most vile of films and distribute such publicly.  Thus films such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "Hostel" are released to public theaters, then to DVDs to attack the minds of curious children and teens.  Call me a prude if one must... but I do see the difference between entertainment and educational value-- and tripe too depraved and twisted to be acceptable to people of conscience, wisdom and maturity.  These things should not even exist.

People will stand up and defend such things, claiming righteous stance against "censorship"... while there is no question as to the effects these things are having on our society as a whole.  To illustrate-- it's like a parent with half a dozen children, all extremely obese, who keeps feeding them pizza and candy and cakes and pies and allows them to eat all they want.   At what point does their permissiveness exceed the bounds of tolerance and enter the area of extreme abuse?

Our society is permissive to an extreme and damaging degree.  We have forgotten where or even how to "draw the line".  No, we don't need a return to the Victorian age, nor even to the 50s when TV depicted husbands and wives sleeping in separate beds.  That admission does not excuse the pendulum swinging to the exact opposite end and permitting anything anyone wants to put on the Net in the oh-so-sacred name of "freedom of expression".   Freedom of speech and freedom of expression both have limits.  The idea is to protect society... not cause its ultimate demise.

The things we are feeding the minds of our young, the total failure of our society to properly censure and forbid twisted and degraded concepts, the exposure of our young to the most depraved and vile of images from early years onward-- is in large part what causes such things as Columbine, the "Batman Theater" shooting... and now this grade school massacre.  These things did not happen by random, chance circumstance.  They are consequences.   We are harvesting the crop we have planted.

The next time parents want to find out why this shooting occurred... go down to your local computer store... visit Best Buy or go online and shop Amazon... and take time to read the descriptions of some of the computer games presented there.  Go online to Android Market (Google Playstore) and take time to examine some of the free and easily-obtainable games they have listed there.  Look at the pictures of game scenes, read what the player has to do to "score" or gain "achievements".  Then when we've done that, take a moment to sit back and examine ourselves and ask-- how did we ever allow our society to come to this?  When did we forget how to say "This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated."

Lest anyone think these are "oppressive, intolerant and censorial" concepts... the above principles are what have guided the formation of the Elf Clan Charter.  That Charter, our group and our lands have been built and based on the concept of our members being able to tolerantly and fairly examine an issue and decide what is acceptable from the standpoint of family welfare, and what is not acceptable.  I believe these simple principles stated above have served us very well as a group.  The proof of such can be found both in our lands and our reputation.  No group is perfect, nor do we expect to be.  We simply wish our members and our society to be balanced, relatively safe, and fun.  Somewhere along the path, our RL society appears to have failed in those areas.

Comment by Minethere Always on December 26, 2012 at 3:27am

I agree that government is needed. As society grows and gets more complex, there must needs be rules and those rules must evolve to -govern- the masses. Otherwise anarchy rules [tho I do enjoy a bit of anarchy here and there-))].

The problem always is one of drawing the line and governments always tend to cross it towards to much control rather than just enough. I understand this, governments, like people, are into self-preservation.

You point out parenting again...I say again that parents have been hobbled, and by to much government control.

As to censorship, and even more laws attempting to curb it [or remove such things some people feel are wrong]...while tho I agree that there is way to much blood and gore, I simply do not see the government as the ones to attempt, yet again, and even more, to stop it.

As with prohibition, humans will always find ways around government, and often not in ways we can foresee and often with much worse results. Already the US has the most imprisoned ppl per capita in the civilized world, do we want to keep increasing that? I think not.

I often say, be careful what you wish for, as it may come true, and you won't like it.

I don't have any answers to the problem of these shootings. I am not a fan of taking peoples guns away as many who like to blame guns would do. I do not see any way to limit the internet that would also leave it in a free way that I have always appreciated. Parents controlling their children is the key, but they can't.

Human will be humans, regardless. An old friend used to say this http://bible.cc/romans/7-24.htm and yes, it is true, and we are wretched.

 

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on December 26, 2012 at 9:34am

You make several good points Mine, starting with "How do we restrict the Internet and still allow freedom?"  That's one of those huge issues with no easy solution.  Yet I feel there must be a solution, somewhere in between undue censorship and allowing the kind of monstrous garbage we see present on there now. 

Yes, the Prohibition was an excellent example of too much government, of censorship gone bad-- and it's a good lesson to learn.  However our society is finding a middleground.  Tobacco commercials have been banned from television and youth areas.  Advertisements against tobacco use are promoted.  It has been banned from public places in many cities (restaurants, theaters) and workplaces have specific smoking rooms which remove it from the environment of non-smokers.  No, they didn't foolishly make it illegal at this time... and it's pretty obvious raising cigarette taxes haven't done much to slow it down.  But it's a reasonable compromise to what non-smokers used to have to put up with in the pre-90s.

So maybe they can't remove porn from the Internet entirely... but they could certainly put together some laws that restrict it to certain areas and keep it off the screen of primary traffic.  They could make it extremely difficult for children to access it.  No, it's not possible or wise to attempt to prohibit Internet porn entirely (I'm sure they'd have people camping on the Whitehouse lawn)... but that doesn't mean they should ignore the problem and just let it ride.  As with tobacco-- there are measures that could be taken.  They won't be easy, they won't be subtle, but they could be as effective.  The alternative is to raise generations of sexually-twisted and uber-violent minds that will become a pox to families and society the likes of which we have not seen.

Regarding parents... I believe government should only become involved in that area in the worst of cases-- the ones where children are obviously suffering.  "My home is my castle" is the rule of thumb there, and parents are the government within a home.  They can choose to rule it well or poorly and yes, children will thrive or suffer.  That's simply a matter of reality.  We can't have home Gestapo making sure parents are goose-stepping to the creed.  What I mean by parenting issues is that the government fails to protect families in areas where governments can have control-- for example in the kinds of things that hit computer gaming shelves, our theaters, our DVDs.  Seriously... do we really need "Nightmare on Elm Street" to provide adequate entertainment for society?  Do we require depraved gore, violence, sadistic torture and graphic sexuality in our theaters to satiate our need for recreation?  Seriously? 

Our cry for NO CENSORSHIP has become an open invitation to the depraved minds of the world.  As one comedian said, "Some people are so open-minded their brains fall out."  There is a difference between tolerance... and self-destructive stupidity.  Or after all these years has society not figured out:  Garbage-in... garbage out.  What we feed our brains is what our brains become. 

So no, governments should not start invading homes or arresting parents because they spanked their kids.  If a child calls the police because the parent properly spanked him, the police should examine the child (as is proper for child protection) and failing to find physically damaging signs (other than a red bottom) should tell the child "Your parent has a right to spank you when you misbehave and do wrong.   If you do so when you're an adult... you'll go to jail.  They are trying to protect you."  That way the children learn to respect both the parents and the police.  If children fail to learn the lesson of "consequences for actions" when they're young... they will most certainly learn far more shocking and damaging lessons when they grow older.

That scripture you quoted is one of my favorites, and insightful quote from Paul bewailing that no matter how hard he tried, he could not totally control his impulses.  It is encouraging as it lets us know we're all human, all are imperfect, all make mistakes.  "If Paul had such problems, I don't feel so alone." 

Yes, even if we pass laws people will find ways around them.  I remember for example a VR world before I came to SL.  This world had a "PG" rating throughout and it was strictly enforced.  Now there was also an "underground" area that one could learn about after a while.  It usually required people getting to know you and then inviting you, where all sorts of things were available.  That underground was known by the sysops, ignored and allowed to exist... so long as they didn't bring it to the mainstream. This protected the reputation of the board, protected newcomers, protected children and families.  The underground cooperated with the sysop because they appreciated the leniency and tried to not step over the very clear lines.  They kept to themselves, were very careful about who they brought down there, and everyone pretty much chose which they preferred to support.  As with Elf Clan, if someone wanted to totally avoid those areas they could, because the underground was in a totally separate, secret-entry area from the main grid (remember the old speak-easys with the sliding eye-door that required them to identify you before entry?). 

So there are solutions to things such as the blatant in-your-face brothel-atmosophere of SL (at least LL finally-- after years-- had the common-sense to separate most of that to Zindra).  There are solutions to the rampant, everywhere-you-go, popup-on-your-screen porn we currently have on the Internet (I mean, even YouTube is featuring pornographic works now-- all under the guise of "sexual education"... of course).  In short, our society does have the ability to say (as did that VR board) this far and no farther.  That's something sadly lacking in our Internet, theater, DVD and computer game areas today... and it is severely damaging our society as a whole.

Comment by Minethere Always on December 26, 2012 at 10:21am

well, this just happened rather recently http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.xxx for a gTLD. As the article shows, it can be gamed and abused also...but, it is there now.

Parents are already ruled by children s protective services [recently 'enhanced' to include the elderly] and children use the threat to 'rule' their parents, rather than the reverse. The problem here is that when one gets involved with those folx their rights go out the window 'all in the name of protecting the children'.

Yes, that Bible passage is a good one, and she was a dear friend who unfortunately died way before what should have been her time, in a car accident.

The whole thing is terribly sad to me and i do not see any of this getting better.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on January 4, 2013 at 10:45am

The .xxx Internet specification would be a good idea... if it was enforced by requiring porn companies to use it, and all browsers including a setting so that parents can specify:  "No xxx sites allowed".  That would at least be a start.  But it doesn't do much good to have that designation with no teeth behind it.  Imo, that's part of where our society is failing.  And sadly, like you say Mine, I don't expect it to improve at all.

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